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The school where children eat their greens

After the frenetic frocks and fillies of Flemington, a sedate afternoon in Adelaide is on the cards for Prince Charles and Camilla and it's all about championing great South Australian food. It's actually a perfectly pitched program with the royal couple being introduced to local initiatives that seem to mirror their own interests back in the UK.
Kilkenny Primary School, founded in 1889, is a truly community-based place of learning, where many of the current 310-strong student body are fourth generation school members. As the kids wait for the couple to arrive excitement is mounting.
"The girls that have dresses in our class are going to do this," says Gracie as she shows me a curtsey, "and rest of us who are in shorts are going to do a bow."
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these schoolchildren who one day may be able to tell their own children about the day they met the King and unsurprisingly their royal knowledge is pretty spot-on.
They know names, titles and ages and even the couple's favourite food. "They like vegetables, lots of vegetables," says Xhoanna. "
And when the Queen dies he's going to be the King," adds Gracie.
The kids line the route through the playground waving flags to greet the Prince and Duchess, who is wearing a beautiful cream chiffon dress with a grey butterfly print and a cream jacket by British designer Fiona Clare.
The Prince is really in his element with children and together the couple genuinely seem to connect with these young faces of Australia.
Their tour of the school starts with the Prince and Duchess watching a barramundi being cooked in a traditional 'fire pit' and then they wind through the school's unique gardens, meeting kids digging in the back yard, working in the school's impressive kitchen garden, part of Melbourne chef and foodie guru Stephanie Alexander's national Kitchen Garden project.
Here there are cabbages, lettuces and broad beans being grown. One of the boys who helped grow the cabbages tells me that even though he doesn't normally eat cabbage, this one was the best he'd ever tasted.
In the school orchard, students manage fruit trees, using compost, and collect eggs in the adjacent chicken yard. And in the school kitchen, Their Royal Highnesses meet Stephanie Alexander and students who are learning about food preparation, cooking and a school menu that is all about encouraging kids to eat healthy fresh local food.
Here, certainly the Kitchen Garden project is a huge success and in August 2012 the Australian Government announced further funding to make the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program more affordable, accessible and flexible to primary schools meaning that by 2015, if the take ip continues at current levels, there will be approximately 650 Kitchen Garden schools around Australia.
"It's all about the fact that you need a pleasurable introduction to food to influence the way children feel about it," says Stephanie Alexander.
"In this program they love it. They enjoy the digging and the dirt, and for many children this is the first time they've ever grown anything in their lives. Then the sheer excitement of seeing their own broad beans or broccoli or whatever produced and then they get it into the kitchen and they learn how to cook it and sit and enjoy eating it together. It's like magic. They eat their greens!"
When the Prince first moved to Highgrove estate in Gloucestershire in the 1980s, he started the long process of converting Duchy Home Farm into an entirely organic agricultural system and through his Duchy Originals produce has proved that high quality food can work in harmony with the environment and nature ... what's more all profits go to The Prince's Charities Foundation.
The Duchess of Cornwall has also taken a personal interested in food production and preparation. And as part of the Diamond Jubillee year initiatives she created a competition for schools in the UK — Cook for The Queen — inviting budding cooks to submit menu suggestions to be served at a Buckingham Palace reception.
Here in Kilkenny the pair have been given plenty of food for thought to take back to the UK.

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